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Authorities on alert for more attacks at state capitols, including Arizona

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Public Safety and the FBI are on high alert at state capitols – including Arizona’s – for armed protests leading up to Inauguration Day next Wednesday and beyond.

The agencies are conducting risk assessments after last week’s U.S. Capitol attacks.

“They’re trying to figure out what the threat might be, who the people are, what they might be engaged in, and where an attack might occur,” said Richard Bloom, director of Terrorism, Intelligence, and Security Studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.

“And then they’re matching that up with vulnerability.”

Bloom also says the protests go well beyond support – or opposition – for whomever is president.

“You can have people with strongly held beliefs which are opposite to each other, who both want to engage in violence,” he said. “Law enforcement has quite a difficult challenge at that point.”

Bloom adds protesters can quickly get out of control when passions soar. Mob mentality could prevail.

“What happened last Wednesday is not going to be the only time this kind of thing occurs,” he said.

In a statement, a DPS spokesman confirmed that fences have been erected at the State Capitol complex to protect property.

“Security procedures at the State Capitol were previously enhanced, not for one specific event, but to ensure the safety of the public,” Bart Graves said.

“We can’t discuss further security measures but are always monitoring situations locally and nationally.”

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